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Rail Table

This table was inspired by two things – railroads and farmhouse dining tables. I wanted to make something that hearkened back to the golden age of railroads, while at the same time conveyed the rugged warmth and wooden solidity of pastoral carpentry. It is definitely a nostalgic piece. The legs were made from an arched truss sourced from an old cotton gin, and have a natural taper perfectly suited to the legs of a dining table. The skirt is made from shiplap salvaged from a 1920’s Craftsman bungalow, and I left the nails in where I could. The tabletop is made of 120 year old barnwood, and is so dense that my saws got more of a workout than they are used to. Along with some basic wood joinery techniques, I used railroad date nails to fasten the skirt to the legs. The subject of date nails is unexpectedly deep, and you can find entire websites devoted to it, but in a nutshell date nails are basically steel nails with dates stamped on the head that were driven into railroad ties for record-keeping purposes. All the date nails in this table are from the 20’s and 30’s, with one from the 00’s. The railroad spikes in the corners of the tabletop lock the wooden panels in place, and are actually a special type of railroad spike much smaller than the ones generally found along railroad tracks, and were mainly used for rail laid in precipitous mountain terrain.  

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Techniques Used

i Carpentry and basic cabinetry

Materials Used

i Arched roof truss from old cotton gin (for the legs)
ii Wooden floorbeams from late 1800’s barn (for the tabletop)
iii Longleaf pine from 1920’s Craftsman bungalow (for the skirt)
iv Railroad date nails
v Small rail spikes for transporting ore-carts in a mine
vi Tung oil | 512.537.7971